The prices of AKs aren’t as low as they used to be. The fact that entry-level ARs are cheaper than their Combloc cousins is simply something the gun community now has to deal with. While the cost of a basic AK has gone up, there may very well be more Kalashnikov-pattern firearms on the market today than ever before. But which ones are actually worth buying?
I’ve had the opportunity to own, shoot, or otherwise review all of the firearms listed below (or a representative example from a specific line of guns—I don’t own a Vepr in every single caliber they’re offered in). I consider each of them to be an excellent pick for anyone seeking a well-made AK. They’re presented in an approximately least-to-most expensive order.
1. Serbian N-PAP
N-PAP rifles are made at the Zastava Arms factory in Serbia and imported and modified by Century Arms International. Along with Romanian-made WASRs, they occupy the lowest rung on the AK price-point totem pole. The models with non-folding wooden stocks can be found online for about $600, while the less common N-PAP DF underfolder usually commands at least $700.
The 7.62x39mm N-PAPs are effectively AKM clones with a few Balkan twists. Most notably, they use proprietary furniture and do not feature chrome-lined barrels. The latter shouldn’t be a problem as long as you practice good cleaning habits and the aftermarket is overflowing with “Yugo-pattern” accessories to address the former.
I’ve owned an N-PAP DF for over a year. Though the underfolder stock takes some getting used to, it’s one of my most fun range blasters. I’ve put 2,000 rounds through it without any problems, and it still pops milk jugs at 100 yards today as well as the first day I got it. It doesn’t have the most beautiful finish, but it works.